When I was living in New Delhi, I stayed with this wonderful older woman, named Prabha. We watched the news together one morning while sipping coffee. On the news we saw a report pop up on The School Under the Bridge, where teachers teach for free to underprivileged kids in the slums right outside of Delhi. I remembered reading about the school before I came to India. Prabha said “I know exactly where that is.” She knew I was set on finding the school, so she planned out the route I needed to take. I wasn’t exactly sure how to get to the school from the train stop, but I was excited nonetheless.
After grabbing my camera and other things I needed, I was off. I took the train to the stop at the bridge. As I came up, I could see the bridge but wasn’t sure where the school was located. I followed the bridge for about a quarter of a mile until I saw an underpass. It didn’t look like the pictures, and looked like it was filled with a lot of garbage. I went down anyway, and when I realize that this wasn’t the right part of the underpass, I continued on. I went on a little bit further (about another quarter-mile) and eventually found them. As I walked up, there was a bunch of men sitting in some chairs. I was so sad at the thought that I might have missed all of the children. I walked up to them and told them how I had heard about their story and how amazing I thought they were. They didn’t understand a whole lot of English but just enough for us to communicate. I told them how I really wanted to visit these kids and see what their life is like. They told me there was another class I could attend, and in the meantime, one of the teachers brought me to the Village where these children lived in.
As we walked down the dirt road, we came to some houses the families lived in. The homes were put together by sheets of metal and other materials. Inside there were beds anywhere they could find a space and rope hanging clothes to dry between houses. Teenagers and kids came running out of the houses to greet me as the visitor. The teacher told me about the conditions they lived in and why they started the school.
The kids were so happy even though they had so little. We headed back to the school just in time for the class to start. I got to meet all the wonderful kids ranging from three years old to 16. I had the opportunity to teach the younger ones how to write. I taught older children a little bit about photography. They had a big map on the wall. I was able to show them where I was from in the world. They put my name right next to the city that I live in on their map. At the end of the class, the teachers handed out packages filled with juice boxes and some snacks and gave a piece of clothing to each one of the kids.
I was so amazed at my experience and getting to see their life. I was ready to head back home, but one of the teachers refused. He and his wife invited me to come back and have dinner at their house. I was beyond touched and agreed. I went back to their house where I got to meet their wonderful son and daughter. They made me dinner and some lovely masala tea. I learned a little bit more about their life and what it’s like living the way they do. The kids had very similar aspirations to kids in America, the dream of going to college, getting married. I listened to the parents explain how they got involved with the school and how happy it makes them be able to help these kids. As the night drew on I realized it was time for me to head back home. The family drove me back to the train station and I went home. I will never forget their kindness and how being in their home I felt welcomed in like family and I felt like family.
A wise system of education will teach us how little man knows, how much he has still to learn. -John Lubbock